Though he wasn’t born in The Hague, he lived for a major part of his life in this town and undeniably left his artistic marks here.
There have been retrospectives of his work in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and even twice in Dordrecht, but in spite of that Verdijk has only become a household name to very few artists and art lovers.
The present exhibition – recently reopened when anti-corona measures were alleviated a bit, difficult to find on the museum’s website, and unclear in how long it will be there – may give a clue to that underrating.
Almost each work on show has the magic to suck you into the intimacy of its composition, such that you may even feel a voyeur; that is, if you really surrender to these works.
I have no idea how long these works will be on show, so hurry to see them!
It‘s not a big deal really, but for one reason or another i’m always attracted to it.
Alas, at the moment you can only see it with either reflections in the glass over it, or covered by your own shadow.
Other works i’m always happy to see are the small collection of portraits by Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543) (photos 39, 40, 42 and 43), surely one of the very greatest painters of the Northern Renaissance.
Seeing them i usually forget about Rubens, Rembrandt and the whole lot.
The Mauritshuis museum says on its website that George Stubbs (1724-1806) belongs in England “without any doubt, in the panthenon [sic!} of eminent eighteenth-century British artists like Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough and J.M.W. Turner.” Apart from the fact that Turner (1775-1851) – although he grew up in 18th century – is generally regarded as a 19th century romantic, one can wonder if this is meant to be a compliment.
Reynolds was without any doubt a good portrait painter, but his portraits are for their contents only interesting for those who are not bored with flattering images of self-indulgent, haughty people. But anyway, the English and the visual arts seem to be married in loving misunderstanding.
Stubbs was a painter who studied the anatomy of horses. Horses of the nobility that is. They all seem to be full-blooded and shiny.
Probably Stubbs’s greatest achievement is his book The Anatomy of the Horse of 1766. The Mauritshuis shows some of his wonderful, comprehensive illustrations.
They are drawn with great care, curiosity and dedication.
He painted his horses with the same great care, but in his paintings horses also become objects of representation, property.
They are shiny and perfect in their tamed wildness and anxiety, even in their eroticism, which is somewhere in between the male and female.
They have become symbols of civilisation, of how the English tamed the World.
The landscapes around them are mere decors, and don’t seem to have any influence on the glowing perfection of the horses.
Although Stubbs was also interested in other living creatures (and their anatomies) his portraits of horses became very popular amongst the rich.
Imagine a millionaire who wants a portrait of his best Maserati or of his private jet.
To be short: the drawings are great, the horses are well painted with great knowledge, the paintings themselves, as paintings, are uninteresting.
McNab shows paintings by herself. She made them twenty years ago as a project called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity – The Isolation Paintings.
These paintings deal with people who are extremely allergic to chemicals, and who have to live a life in isolation. Indeed these are moving works under the present crisis, although isolation doesn’t seem to be much of an issue anymore.
Which goes to show that even a crisis itself is an historic construction with different phases of intensity and remembrance.
Designer Richard Sluijs proposed to show again his book about suicides during the Banking crisis Complete Lexicon of Crisis Related Suicides – 2008-2013 / Volume 1.
Leafing through the book may give you the idea of walking in a very sad graveyard, almost a war cemetery.
Jorrit Paaijmans suggested SHRINK 01995 a performance piece by Lawrence Malstaf in which a person (in this case the artist himself) is vacuum-drawn in between twee plastic sheets.
Watching man, helpless in his own protective isolation, indeed gives an extreme idea of the oppressiveness of the human condition.
Annechien Meier suggested a painting by Marjolein van Haasteren: The Storm. The work reminded Meier of the present situation the world is in.
Due to the refurbishment of the gallery (a great improvement indeed) which allows more light and sensitivity, the works in the exhibition are even given a sense of isolation.
Sluijs suggested to give his book a place near Stroom’s entrance but has now been given its own place, its own chapel so to say, in Stroom’s main gallery.
As for my own private suggestions for works that are revalued by the present crisis, i refer you to four articles (in Dutch) in Villa La Repubblica: click here, here, here and here .
To be honest i was disappointed about Danielle Dean’s present show at 1646. A reason may be that Dean couldn’t be present to build up the show, as would have been usual under ‘normal’ circumstances, or that my expectations were too high. Also the works on show looked somehow unfinished.
They have at least the potential to generate more meaning. In the front room of the gallery Dean shows some work about Fordlândia, the disastrous, devastating and ill-fated project by the Ford company in the Brazilian Amazon jungle in order to break the British monopoly of world rubber trade in the 1920s. She combines that story of violent racism and imperialism with the working conditions of the present day Amazon.com company.
However, the different components of the work fail to become more than just an illustration of the story. The front gallery also shows advertising for the Lincoln Continental car of 1965, a model produced by the Ford company. It shows the car parked in front of some supposedly private woodland where the owner of the Lincoln is checking her mailbox.
The same woodland, without the car, the lady and the letterbox, but with the private road sign, is the starting point for an animation in the main gallery space. That animation is visually the most interesting part of the show. Important is of course the detail of the private road sign.
However, imaginative and haunting as the animation is, one cannot see much more than a somewhat Jungian dream-like situation in it. Do go and take a look for yourself, as you may feel differently about the show.
Dan Zhu (1985) is (as far as i know) the newest in the quartet of draughts(wo)men presented by Maurits van de Laar.
As she already showed some years ago at the Rijksacademie in Amsterdam, she has a fine sense of the transparency of the medium, combined with a haunting imagination.
As part of the national art online show Unlocked/Reconnected, Tobias Gerber (1961) is showing a series in which the world is seen through a keyhole in a closed chest.
Martin Assig (1959) is showing works of his ongoing St. Paul series, partly homage to Paul Klee (though very influential, Klee seems to be condemned to a minor role in art history because of the small size of his works and their content, which is stylistically difficult to define), but especially stylistically inventive in its own right.
Very rich in their moods and ideas are the fine crayon drawings by Ronald Versloot (1964).
Maurits van de Laar is able to show this profusion (in these pictures you see only a tip of the iceberg) of drawings because he left the partitions of the gallery, made for Chritie van der Haak’s show, intact, enormously increasing the capacity of the gallery space.
The exhibition itself shows a very strong quartet of draughtsmen indeed, with inspiring and very imaginative drawings, and it will take you some time to see it all.
Nature and the world around us change constantly, as, indeed, we do ourselves too, even without knowing or noticing it.
Changes may go slowly or abruptly and they make us change our views, perspectives and moods.
The idea of metamorphosis is part of our lives.
As such it is an extremely wide ranging concept, especially for an exhibition, like the one presently at Kadmium called Metamorphosis.
Maybe the most metamorphosis related work in the show is Inge Reisberman’s (1959) video Top of the lake which immerses you for almost seven minutes into a dreamlike state wherein colours and shapes slowly change, lighten up or fade away.
Strongest works on show by Chung-Hsi Han (1958) are, in that respect, Metamorphosis IX and X, both existing of four landscape-like drawings which more or less flow into each other.
In Eelke van Willegen’s (1974) sculptures metamorphosis is present like in any other work of art; after all, making art is, in itself, a matter of changing materials and ideas or reshaping them.
However that is no problem as Van Willegen’s sculptures almost literally shape the whole exhibition.
The show itself was opened in April, mid-Covid-19 crisis, but Kadmium itself is spacious enough to receive a few visitors and to keep a five feet distance.